Apparently, quite a lot of people would prefer to talk to a robot, when compared to talking to their employer or coworkers. According to this article by Ashley Stahl:
The data is staggering: pre Covid-19, one in five Americans struggle with mental health and yet, 60% of those adults didn’t receive any medical support. Despite the prevalence, a “stigma” exists in preventing people from reaching out and getting the help they need. All this privacy and stigmatization is likely why 68% of people would prefer to talk to a robot over their manager about stress and anxiety at work and 80% of people are open to having a robot as a therapist or counselor.
I wonder how many people would feel similarly had the question been about a spouse or parent? I would hope it’s not 68%, but there are certain benefits to talking to someone who won’t use it against you later, right?
I’m glad so many people are open to having a robot therapist, because as we have discussed many times, we don’t have nearly enough therapists to treat everyone who needs it, and you can’t just create more trained therapists very quickly. With good enough artificial intelligence programming, we CAN spin up more trained chat robots to meet the need. Is the programming good enough today? I don’t know. I’m guessing there is still some work to do, but at what point is it better than what we have now for so many people, which is nothing?
I’d argue that point may already be here, but, as with any kind of new treatment option, we want to first make sure that it won’t do harm. I’m hoping we can get over that hurdle safely. This could really provide some level of assistance to so many who don’t have any. It could also help people avoid the stigma attached with “going to therapy” when they can do it in an app, or from home. It sucks that there is still so much stigma attached to that, but that is the world we live in right now.
The important thing, though, is that while we continue to fight to erase the stigma, that people who need help, can find some. I’m certainly open to looking at any way technology can help us do that. Obviously, the alternatives are falling short. So why not?
Do go read Ashley’s article, it’s full of good information about mental health and work.